Need some respite when it gets steaming hot in the city? How do lidos, fountains, splash park and a marine lake sound to you? Bristol has a number of places where you can cool off during a British heatwave…
I’ve heard more than one person describe being at The Lido in Bristol, ‘like being on holiday’. And I agree, the place oozes, uber-chilled vacation vibes, that even on a dreary day, you can be transported to the sparkling waters of foreign climes. Come summer, it’s the perfect place to chill out and cool off. The low-chlorine open-air, infinity-style pool is heated year-round (but still feels refreshing on a hot day), Victorian-esque dressing rooms run down one side, a pool-side restaurant serving delectable tapas, cooling cocktails and a la carte upstairs, the other. If you’re brave enough to face the sauna in such heat, don’t forget to douse yourself with a bucket of cold water afterwards, stew in the outdoor jacuzzi or treat yourself to a spa treatment upstairs. There’s no child play area per se, but if you keep a good eye in summertime, a few splashes from a passing swimmer is pretty entertaining for the mini ones. Afterwards, whiling the afternoon away with your Alhambra beer should swell the soul.
Lido non-members can book a ‘package’ or go to an off-peak swimming session (Mon-Fri 1pm-4pm). Kids can join their parents in the swimming pool between 2pm and 4pm during the non-member swim sessions. All under-18’s must be accompanied in the pool on a one to one basis. £7.50 per child aged 4-17, or free for children aged 3 and under (swimming nappy required).
2. The fountains in Millennium Square
Outside We The Curious (Bristol’s excellent interactive science centre) and its giant disco ball (which houses the UK’s first 3D Planetarium), there are fountains and water features galore – perfect for splashing in on a hot day. Pitch up and paddle – there’s plenty of space for little ones to go nuts in and a couple of restaurants dotted around the water’s edge to watch them from.
3. The fountains at Cascade Steps
Not far from Millennium Square, in the centre of Bristol, the fountains nearby at Cascade Steps are also good for a kiddo splash about. You’re also right next to the Floating Harbour here and Bristol Ferry Boat pontoon, so afterwards you could take to the water and pootle around the Harbourside to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat…or a cheeky cider.
There’s nothings so nice as messing about on the river when the mercury rises, and Bristol’s Floating Harbour is at its sparkling, buzzing best on a sunshiney day. SUP Bristol offer 2.5 hours Harbourside adventures at weekends, or 1.5 hour taster sessions on weekday evenings or you can round up your friends and family and book a group session. Whatever you choose, exploring Bristol’s historic waterways in this way is pretty special. And of course you can always ‘let’ yourself fall in, should you need to cool off.
3. St Andrews Park paddling pool
St Andrews is one of Bristol’s loveliest parks, a classic Victorian landscaped park with a fantastic playground for kids, including a large sand pit. The park comes into its own in summer and families flock to the large, clean, free paddling pool for young’uns to splash about in. There’s plenty of grass to picnic on, gorgeous old trees for shade and when ice cream sellers aren’t wandering the pathways there’s a charming little kiosk at its centre where you can get refreshments.
The splash park at Bristol Zoo Gardens alone is worth the ticket price during the warm summer months. Bridges crossing shallow water ways, tiered splash pools make perfect toddler sheep dips, there are water dam gates to play with,stepping stones and basking crocodiles (wooden). Once you’ve visited the exotic animals, make your way through the zoo’s beautiful, vibrant gardens so everyone can get good and soggy.
For a bit of relief in the sweltering heat, head a few miles out of Bristol, to Portishead (where the famous band got their name). In a picturesque spot overlooking the Bristol Channel, you’ll find a large open-air pool heated by green energy and a non-slip, shallow toddler pool. When you’re done wallowing in the water, grab something from the tuck shop or cafe and gaze out over the sea.
A short hop down the M5 out of Bristol and you’ll find the charming Victorian seaside town of Clevedon. Famous for its historic pier, you’ll also find pebbly shores and a marine lake made out of the Bristol Channel for cooling hot bods off in. Visitors can also hire boats, ‘zorb’ and canoe atop its waters and hunt out crabs below. Of course, for those who want extra watery cooling off-ness, the sea is right there!
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